Apple Vision Pro, reinvention of mixed reality

As we expected, Apple has taken advantage of the inaugural event of WWDC 2023 to introduce Apple Vision Pro (a name that was not in the pools), your more than expected mixed reality viewer, augmented or whatever you prefer to call this approach, which superimposes elements of the software that is running in the viewer on the real image of the environment that surrounds the user. And of course, as we could already imagine, once again Apple has demonstrated that when it is not the first to reach a market, it does know how to differentiate itself from what could be its competition.

Apple Vision Pro does not arrive alone, of course, but accompanied by a custom operating system called visionOS, and yes, in case you were thinking about it, in the end it was not even xrOS, a name that had gained a lot of strength in recent months (and that now leaves us wondering who, and with what intention, registered it as a trademark and as name just a month ago), and neither realityOS, another name that has been very popular over the past year. So, a zero to the leakers in terms of names, both the device and the OS.

Now, the names are, in the end, minor aspects, the key is what the device offers and, in this regard, as I mentioned before, it seems that in Cupertino they have done their homework, and not with the intention of approving, no, but with the aim of earning an honors degree. Obviously there will be those who find the Apple Vision Pro proposal fascinating, while others will think that it is not such a big deal. Personally, I admit that I am in the first group, despite the fact that my initial skepticism was more than considerable.

Be careful, with this I do not mean that this viewer is going to be a sales success, since its price is quite high, and also its real performance in the real world has yet to be seen, something for which it will still be necessary to wait a few months. But well, then we will talk about prices and dates, now the first thing is to see, in depth, what has Apple done, how has it managed to differentiate itself from everything that exists Until now and, of course, what this means for potential users of the Apple Vision Pro.

Apple Vision Pro, reinvention of mixed reality

The first thing to note is that we are talking about a totally independent device, that is, it will not be necessary to connect it to a computer to use it. To this end, Apple Vision Pro is motorized with two integrated. On the one hand we have a Apple Silicon M1a chip that will be in charge of commanding the viewfinder, but that will be supported by a new integrated, the Apple R1which will be responsible for receiving and processing the signals from all the sensors integrated into the viewfinder, which I can tell you are quite a few.

Do you want more specific information about it? Well, in that case we talk about 12 cameras, five sensors and six microphones, which are responsible for providing the integration with the real environment, the viewer control system, user recognition and other functions that we will see later. And yes, I did mention user identification, for which Apple Vision Pro uses a new system, called Optical ID. With the visor on, the combination of LEDs whose light is not perceptible to the human eye and the high-definition image capture of the user’s irisallow you to identify it safely.

Apple has not provided exact information about the size of the screens integrated into the device, but it has said that they are built with Micro-OLED panelswhich are about the size of a postage stamp and which, between them, represent 23 million pixels. So that we can get an idea of ​​the density of these tiny screens, they have indicated that the space occupied by one pixel on the screen of an iPhone integrates 64 pixels on these screens.

Apple Vision Pro, reinvention of mixed reality

A visual experience of this type should have a counterpart to match when it comes to sound, and this is something that they have also taken into account for their design. So, Apple Vision Pro incorporates two separate headphones with spatial soundApple’s implementation of Dolby Atmos, so the set of image and sound quality, together with the immersion that a device with these characteristics can provide, already indicates that the content consumption experience can be more than remarkable.

A key aspect, given that we are talking about an independent device, that is to say, that it does not need a PC and that, therefore, takes care of all the tasks, is the autonomy that it can provide. In this regard, Apple Vision Pro has a battery, but to make the viewfinder lighter it is not built into it. Apple’s proposal is an external battery (which can fit in your pocket, according to Apple) and which, connected to the viewfinder, provides a autonomy of up to two hours. Of course, for longer uses, it can also be used connected to the electrical network.

Apple Vision Pro, reinvention of mixed reality

Whenever viewers of this type are discussed, there is an important aspect that is not always taken into account by manufacturers, or perhaps it does arise, but due to its complexity it ends up being left up in the air. I am referring, of course, to its use by people with vision correction needs, that is, who normally wear glasses, but cannot use them with this type of device. In the design of the Apple Vision Pro it has been taken into account, so that people who need it can use optical inserts from ZEISS to ensure visual fidelity and eye tracking accuracy. The bad part is that, yes, these optical elements will have to be purchased separately.

Regarding its designits entire front is made of laminated glass, in one piece, and the choice of this material is far from accidental, and this is something that you will understand perfectly a little later, but I can tell you in advance that it has a lot to do with the organic integration of content and user in the environment. This front is integrated into a aluminum body to which its strap is attached, made of textile materialand that due to the adjustments shown by Apple it seems that it will adjust quite well to the most diverse anatomies.

Apple Vision Pro, reinvention of mixed reality

I’ll go deeper into handling the viewer a bit later, when we talk about visionOS, a key element in the user experience of Apple Vision Pro, but since we are reviewing its design and appearance, we cannot ignore that it only integrates a physical control to interact with the device, a crown (in the style of the Apple Watch), which we will use to adjust the degree of immersion that we want to use at all times.

As indicated above, Apple has not provided much technical information about the device, although this is forgivable considering that it will still take a few months to reach the market. It is to be expected, yes, that before starting its commercialization it does put specific numbers to its technical specifications.

Apple Vision Pro, reinvention of mixed reality

visionOS, the real key to Apple Vision Pro

When we talk about a PC, a smartphone, a tablet, etc., the technical specifications are a key aspect, since they allow us to make comparisons with other devices of the same type and segment, in addition to carrying out, based on our experience and needs, an assessment of the performance that it can offer us and, of course, whether or not it adjusts to what we need. However, Apple Vision Pro inaugurates a new market (you may think that saying that is excessive, but I will explain it below), so we lack all that context and, therefore, we can (and should) assess the proposal based on of the experience that it offers us, something in which the operating system plays a key role.


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